In retrospect I don’t feel I came down hard enough on The Hangover Part II, but I won’t make that mistake this time. The Hangover Part III does do a couple things that the previous film should have, but at this point it’s much too little and far too late.
The plot takes a Die Hard with a Vengeance direction. Alan (Zach Galifinakis) is being driven to a mental health treatment facility in Arizona by Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Doug (Justin Bartha) when they are pushed off the road and kidnapped. They are then brought before Marshall (John Goodman), a gangster who’s the boss of “Black” Doug (Mike Epps). Marshall has a score to settle with Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), who stole millions in gold from him. Chow has just busted out of jail, and with Doug taken hostage to ensure their cooperation, our trio is tasked with hunting him down.
As Alan has maintained contact with him, they locate Chow in Tijuana. Some hijinks ensue, and he gets by them. They then track him to Las Vegas, more hijinks.
Something about the first movie that I don’t think receives enough notice for making it all work is the mystery aspect. That is to say, the various puzzle pieces they wake up to after the binge. Of course the changed plot setup doesn’t lend itself to exactly that, but there was still a chance to see them sleuth around. It never takes them any real effort in finding Chow, any of the times. This should have been the endgame the same way that finding Doug and making sense of the previous night was for the first.
And this all leads primarily into the next problem: Chow himself. No longer used sparingly like in the previous two movies, spending more time with this character makes one realize just how annoying and grating he is.
Usually the high point is the Alan character, and while they do try to give him some more emphasis, such emphasis really betrays the appeal. He could have been funny again, but the film makes the critical error of trying to explain him. Sure, there was always something “off” about him, but to distinctly know that he’s mentally ill and off his meds is just unnecessarily unpleasant. Remember that this is a character who is exclusively laughed at, never with.
Heather Graham comes back, and it is nice to see her again. However, after being so unceremoniously dumped from the story in Part II, there is really nothing for her to do here. Nor is there much for Melissa McCarthy, who could have made a decent surprise had the trailer not already shown her. Goodman is the diamond in the rough here, but it’s a whole lot of rough.
Oh yeah, no Mike Tyson this time. And if he didn’t want to come back, that should really tell you something.
We can only hope that the advertisements aren’t lying when they say that this is last movie in a trilogy that should never have been. People do know that Arrested Development just came back, right? Watch that instead.